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UC Berkeley/social welfare
Dissertation: School-Based Health and Social Services: Reducing or Reproducing Inequality in Education?
Abstract: Given persistent racial and ethnic disparities in access to health and social services, scholars and advocates have long argued that intensive school-based support programs are a critical condition for the academic success of disadvantaged students of color. Yet surprisingly little is known about the actual dynamics of service delivery and use in educational settings, particularly across race and ethnicity. Administrative data from health and social programs in a large urban school district indicates that the provision of services in schools does improve access for historically underserved groups. However, the dramatic overrepresentation of Black and Latino youth in the most stigmatized and problem-focused services, such as individual psychotherapy, may be cause for concern. Drawing on institutional theory and research from special education, this study will use archival, administrative, and survey data to examine school processes that contribute to differential patterns of student participation by race and ethnicity.
Dissertation: Working Toward Change: Youth Researchers Challenging Systemic Racism in Education
Abstract: Many Black and Latino high school students are denied access to rigorous curriculum, hurting their chances of postsecondary success. This paper explores a novel approach to addressing this manifestation of systemic racism in education, studying the potential of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)—youth-driven, collective research and advocacy—to promote the improvement of curriculum for these students. My study examines the advocacy efforts of a YPAR group called the Council, whose members include Latino and Black high school students and adult allies. My study indicates that the students’ “advocacy messages” about rigorous curriculum have impacted teachers, school administrators, curriculum, and pedagogy. Also, the Council as a whole has served as a curricular model for teachers and school administrators.
Dissertation: Adolescent Well-Being and School Connectedness: Implications for School Practices and Policies
Abstract: My dissertation employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine how schools influence adolescents’ health, emotional well-being, and feelings of attachment to the school community. The project consists of two studies. The first study is an in-depth, multi-perspective case analysis of school connectedness from the viewpoints of students, teachers, and administrators in one urban middle school. The second study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to profile the individual and ecological characteristics of school health service users and non-users. Findings from these studies aim to: 1) identify factors that create engaging school environments in which young people feel connected, and 2) better recognize vulnerable youth that may benefit from on-site supports, thereby reducing the gap between need and service access for those living with health concerns. Evidence from this research can inform school practices and policies designed to improve students’ physical, psychological, behavioral, and academic functioning.
Dissertation: Shocking Inequality: Teachers’ Subjective Experiences of Unequal Schools
Abstract: This dissertation examines the *critical conditions* that impact teachers’ subjective experiences of their work as they negotiate the “uncomfortable middle ground” between students and unequal school systems, enhancing our understanding of the processes that mediate race/class disparities in schooling outcomes. This comparative study is based on in-depth interviews with teachers at high schools in three independent school districts in L.A. County that vary in terms of student demographics, material resources, and relationship to the local community. The research examines the complex process of developing a self-as-teacher for individuals who vary in terms of their personal backgrounds and teacher training, and who negotiate interpersonal and institutional relationships within unequal schools. Thus, this dissertation will help us to develop a more nuanced sense of the conditions confronting teachers, how they process these conditions, and the stances they develop that may help them to understand, cope with, and perhaps challenge systems of oppression.
Dissertation: Shaping the Lives of their Children: How African American Parents Make Educational Investments
Abstract: This study seeks to better understand African American parents’ educational involvement by providing a nuanced account of the ways they invest in their children’s education. By disaggregating analyses to document within-group differences and similarities, this study will move away from monolithic portrayals of African American parents. The study will also explore how decisions and actions traditionally characterized as investment activities may be mediated by parents’ assets, dispositions, educational orientations, and social location. By examining parents’ educational investment patterns using quantitative and qualitative data, this study seeks to interrogate prevailing deficit understandings about African American parents. Further, this study will make contributions to our knowledge of family and secondary school connections by examining educational investments in the context of the adolescent years which represent a key time for a youth’s transition to adulthood. Educational investments made during this time could prove consequential for African American students’ college opportunity.
Dissertation: Talking about Writing: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Adolescents’ Socialization into Academic Literacy
Abstract: Taking a language socialization perspective, my research describes conditions for academic language development in culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents through a multi-case ethnographic study of high school writing instruction in California. I observed and recorded classroom talk about writing over one year in English language arts and English language development classes. Follow-up interviews with graduated seniors consider their transition into college writing. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach (Strauss, 1987). Further deductive analyses consider classroom discourse patterns (Bloome et al., 2005; Gibbons, 2006). The study examines consistencies and inconsistencies in curriculum from ELD to mainstream, ninth to twelfth grades, and from high school to college. This study traces ways students learn to talk about writing and proposes ways for schools to better address culturally and linguistically diverse students’ learning needs around academic language and writing in the face of accountability pressures and limited resources.
Dissertation: Beyond Risks and Resources: Educational Discourse and the Construction of the Home-School Relationship for Mexican Immigrant Families
Abstract: Drawing on the linguistic anthropology of education, this twelve-month qualitative dissertation offers a nuanced exploration of the interplay between institutional discourse on Latinos in education and the nature of the home-school relationship for four Mexican immigrant families. Relying on participant observation in homes and schools, video and audio recordings, interviews, and textual artifact collection within a northern and southern California school district, this study furthers our understanding of how institutionally-based texts and discursive interactions between the home and school contexts are negotiated moment-to-moment, yet encoded by the sociopolitical and historical context of education in the United States. This micro-level analysis furthers our understanding of how ideologies of language and personhood shape the ways in which the study’s key social actors (parents, students, teachers, and administrators) participate in face-to-face and textual-based interactions, ultimately influencing Mexican immigrant parents’ and students’ educational perspectives, schooling practices, and postsecondary plans.
Kim Nga Huynh
Dissertation: Stepping Stones to a Baccalaureate
Abstract: This dissertation investigates how students’ educational plans develop as they move to and through community college. Low community college transfer and completion rates are often discussed in terms of student characteristics, rather than institutional weaknesses that affect all students. To direct attention towards the impact of institutional practices, this study focuses on how youths make sense of, and respond to, their college environments. Forty seniors were recruited in high school and followed into community college for over eighteen months in order to investigate how their perceptions of the opportunities and constraints within their respective college shaped their college plans and persistence behavior. I find that student participation and withdrawal behavior is adaptive, which means that student performance is a strategic response to student perception of environmental conditions. A more subtle but significant finding is that student (mis)behavior can only be more fully understood as action constituted within a value-laden system of evaluation.
Edward G. Lyon
UC Santa Cruz/education
Dissertation: Shifting from Assessment as Evaluation to Assessment as a Vehicle for Science Learning and Equity: Changes in Secondary Science Preservice Teachers’ Assessment Expertise
Abstract: Assessment plays a critical role in secondary science classrooms, both in reporting what students know, which affects their advancement through high school, as well as supporting students’ science learning. Yet assessing English Learners (ELs) equitably is a daunting task. This study aims to document how the assessment expertise of eleven secondary science preservice teachers (SSPTs) changed during a teacher education program (TEP) when provided with focal assessment-related instruction. Employing a mixed-method approach, I collected survey, interview, artifact, and classroom observation data. Responses to open-ended prompts were scored using a rubric and the content of interviews and observation field notes was qualitatively analyzed through iterative coding and pattern identification. The SSPTs demonstrated positive changes in their assessment expertise, such as “shifting” from recognizing assessment equity issues to awareness of assessment strategies appropriate for ELs. The findings have implications on how SSPTs are prepared to assess in linguistically diverse classrooms.
Danny C. Martínez
Dissertation: Expanding Linguistic Repertoires: An Ethnography of Black and Latino Intercultural Communication at Willow High School
Abstract: Using theoretical and methodological tools from Sociocultural language and literacy research, and the Ethnography of Communication tradition, my dissertation documents the linguistic repertoires of Black and Latina/o youth at Willow High School. Situated in four English Language Arts classrooms, this study explores the regularities and variances of Black and Latina/o youths’ language practices. This study seeks to encourage a nuanced understanding of the intercultural peer language socialization processes of Black and Latina/o youth, and to highlight linguistic dexterity of these youth. This study details the ways in which Black and Latina/o youth participate in everyday intercultural language activities that expand their linguistic repertoires in ways not valued by current educational discourse that support the hegemony of English. This study will inform a curricular framework that honors the shared practices of Black and Latina/o youth in ways that will treat their languages as a resource for learning and development.
Dissertation: Mind the Gap: A Cognitive Strategies Approach to College Writing Readiness
Abstract: English language learners (ELLs) are one of the fastest growing groups among school-age children in the country, yet, according to national NAEP (2005) data, only 4% of them scored at the proficient level in reading in grade 8. ELLs continue to lag behind every other group when it comes to reading and writing, which raises the question of how to effectively and equitably educate a growing population of traditionally underserved students in order to prepare them to gain access to and flourish in postsecondary institutions. Much of the current literature points to academic preparation as being a key factor in college access and persistence. This study is a quasi-experimental, longitudinal, mixed methods study, which follows a cohort of 136 12th grade ELLs as they transition from high school to college, looking to see how their academic preparation, specifically their writing experiences and performances, enables them to gain access to and persist in college.
Ronald K. Porter
Dissertation: Contested Humanity: Blackness and the Educative Remaking of the Human in the 20th Century
Abstract: The question of what constitutes “the human” has been of pivotal import since the rise of European modernity. While what it means to be human has been claimed to be a universal concept, the human has in fact been defined in ways that have been both narrow and exclusionary, especially in regards to race. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand how black educational thinkers have both critiqued and rearticulated Eurocentric ideals of humanity. Black educational thinkers pose a fundamental question: How do we go about the task of understanding, creating, and articulating notions of black humanity when the very language of humanity is based on a universal that excludes? I seek to understand how race has been rearticulated as a question of “the human” in the 20th century by focusing on the educational thought of three individuals: W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and James Baldwin.
Dissertation: Adolescent Skill-building and Persistence in Youth Programs
Abstract: After-school programs provide academic and social supports that are critical for promoting college enrollment in disadvantaged students. Yet, without sustained attendance teens will not benefit from the supports offered in this context. Research shows that for ethnic minority youth, the promise of learning new skills attracts them to programs. This dissertation is an in-depth examination of opportunities for skill-building and the relationship between skill-building and attendance in a college and career focused program serving predominantly Latino students. Specific research questions include: 1) How are skill-building opportunities created in a high quality program?; 2) Does intensity of program attendance predict content specific skill-building?; 3) Does short-term skill-building predict sustained attendance? This study uses a mixed-methods design employing observations, staff interviews, youth surveys, and attendance records. The findings will inform the practices of program leaders and the strategies to increase the attendance of low-income ethnic minority adolescents in a developmentally enriching context.
Faculty Seed Grant Fellow
The Faculty Seed Grant is awarded to support the initial stages of research.
Sara Castro-Olivo, Ph.D.
Title: Facilitating Universal Emotional Resiliency for the Social and Academic Success (FUERSAS) of Latino English Language Learners
This study consists of two phases. The first phase will evaluate the relationship of mental health, acculturative stress, and academic aspirations/outcomes of Latino high school students. This phase will function as a needs assessment and screening procedure for identifying youth at-risk for dropping out. Identified students will be invited to participate in phase II of the study, which will pilot the impact of a culturally adapted social-emotional learning intervention on students’ academic and social-emotional outcomes. Previous research has identified a significant correlation between Latino students’ mental health and acculturative stress. Both of these factors have been shown to have a negative impact on the academic performance of middle school Latino students (Albeg, 2010). It is hypothesized that mental health will be correlated with academic outcomes, and aspirations, of Latino high school students. The proposed intervention is expected to have positive effect on participating students’ social-emotional and academic outcomes.